Melbourne's Micron21 deploys hundreds of top Cisco switches for blazing-fast network

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Melbourne's Micron21 deploys hundreds of top Cisco switches for blazing-fast network

Melbourne-based data centre operator Micron21 has revealed a major investment in the latest Cisco networking gear to offer customers blistering fast uplink speeds of up to 1.2 terabits per second per rack.

"We have decided to make such a massive investment in Cisco to ensure we are providing the very best," managing director James Braunegg told CRN.

[Check out photos inside Micron21's data centre]

The investment in roughly 200 Cisco Nexus 93180YC switches is just one example of Micron21's strategy to over-spec the facility to impress the most demanding enterprise customers.

"We evaluated a large number of hardware and SDN software vendors including, Huawei, Dell, Brocade, Mellanox, Cumulus, HPE, Arista, Juniper, Big Switch, Edgecore and Backpack," Braunegg said.

In seeking to upgrade from its previous configuration, which used two 10 Gbps uplinks per rack, Micron21 had a demanding shopping list – Braunegg required "BGP EVPN, VXLAN, active-active MLAG, RIOT, VLAN Rate limiting, VLAN counters and a number of technical features".

Each Cisco Nexus can provide a dozen 100 Gbps uplink ports per rack, providing a maximum uplink capacity for north-south or east-west traffic of 1.2 Tbps.

While the Cisco haul would easily carry a list price in the multiple millions, Braunegg would not be drawn on the value of his networking investment, which was supplied by distributor Westcon-Comstor.

Extreme density

Micron21, which is currently expanding toward 100 racks, has more than 1000 customers across a highly dense infrastructure of fewer than 10 racks.

"We only provide rack space by the RU [rack unit]," Braunegg said. "Being also a managed service provider this enabled us to run each rack at extreme density, hence the requirement for large amounts of power, cooling and network connectivity per rack.

"Your typical operator sells a 2KW rack for $1200-1500 per month for the entire rack. We have clients that take up 1RU in a 48-RU rack that are spending $2000 per RU," Braunegg explained.

"Put 48 of them in a rack, and that is a very expensive rack. Our clientele are all about highly dense, highly redundant compute capacity."

Redundancy has been the watchword for Micron21. The Australian co-location provider grew out of a family printing business in Melbourne and in March became the first Australian company to achieve Tier IV rating from the Uptime Institute.

Achieving 100 percent redundancy in its high-density data centre has meant backup systems everywhere for its critical infrastructure, supplied by key vendor Vertiv.

For example, Micron21 relies on a free-cooling chilled water solution and has deployed a separate refrigerant solution, with the two systems designed to run independently to ensure complete redundancy. The chilled water system itself is designed with two independent loops to provide redundancy within the system.

This is not the only example of redundancy on top of redundancy, Braunegg explained.

"We have three switch rooms and each switch room is fully redundant in and of itself –  two UPS, two or three switchboards, two air-con units using different forms of technology. Everything in that room can fail."

Braunegg added that Micron21 "over-engineered the power redundancy" over and above Tier IV certification to build a truly mission-critical environment.

"On the network side, we have done the same. Within our core network, we have two racks but half our networking equipment is on one rack and half is in another rack.

"In each rack we have two core switchers, two core routers, two core firewalls, two core DDoS appliances, two load balancers, two of everything – everything is redundant within that rack but the rack is still a single point of failure so we have another rack in another part of the data centre with the same centre." 

Micron21 also provide DDoS protection services, Braunegg explained.

The company runs "a massive global network" with upstream connections to 1700 networks across the world "giving us the capacity and capability to absorb unwanted traffic targeting Australian networks and clean the unwanted traffic as close to the source as possible within major regions of the world".

Another new service offering is fixed wireless for the surrounding businesses, with Micron 21 having recently installed a 25-metre telecommunication tower in front of the building in the suburb of Kilsyth South.

"Our point-to-multipoint network uses massive [multiple-antenna] technology based on 5G fixed technology where we can support 1200 local connections from our tower with a maximum connection speed of 500 Mbps achievable to customers within a 5km radius of our facility," Braunegg said.

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